Review: A Star is Born


Photo by Clay Enos

Shining a light on alcoholism and mental health, “A Star is Born” enchants viewers with a modern version of the timeless story of love in a toxic environment.

When veteran rock star Jackson Maine [Bradley Cooper] hears struggling musician Ally Campana [Lady Gaga] in a bar one evening following his late night performance, he immediately seeks to make her voice heard. However, as Ally rises to fame, Jack and Ally’s relationship deteriorates as both of them are forced to come face-to-face with their own personal demons.

From lights up to curtain close, Cooper, in his directorial debut, and Gaga entrance the audience with their acting prowess. Even in raw moments without background music, of which there are many, the pair’s onscreen presence is poignant, masterfully controlling the camera. Enhanced by jaw-dropping performances from Sam Elliot, Anthony Ramos and Dave Chappelle, the cast expertly captures the dense subject matter at hand. As Cooper’s character spirals into a bottle of whiskey, the toxicity of his relationship with Gaga’s character progressively reveals itself. The movie handles the delicate issue of alcoholism and dependency inquisitively, allowing Cooper’s character to expose his flaws from beginning to end.

The film also tackles the plot wisely. Every subplot is addressed in full, from familial issues to hearing problems to self-confidence, and each subplot serves as a piece in constructing the whole tragic puzzle. What could have deteriorated into a mad scramble of connections is a carefully structured work of art. While they may originate from popular cinema tropes and a predictable foundation, the characters themselves possess unique, individual personalities and backgrounds. Throughout the story, the dialogue feels natural and unencumbered by meaningless filler.

Technically, the movie shines. The lighting dazzles and progresses to effortlessly complement the plotline at any moment, darkening as the troubles deepen. The clear contrasts in setting, lighting and camera angles also echo the storyline, evident in the numerous shots of Gaga dominating the stage and Cooper standing out of focus in the background. Whenever an actor or actress looks directly into the camera, the raw emotion is unparalleled. The movie executes each shot and foreshadowing moment with ease.

Overall, “A Star is Born” is a masterpiece — everything the audience hoped for and more. Cooper directs the film with precision, paying close attention to every detail; nothing is out of place. Gaga, who previously won a Golden Globe for her work in “American Horror Story,” took a major risk with this out-of-character role, and it payed off in every way. Scene after scene is a work of art, genius lighting and intentional shots. Due to this, “A Star is Born” deserves all the hype it is getting.

Due to the exorbitant profanity, occasional nudity, and depictions of drug abuse, this is not a family movie, but one that is for moviegoers who love raw emotion and well-crafted pieces of film. “A Star is Born” epitomizes an all-around excellent movie, surpassing audience expectations and serving the purpose of a masterful film: to leave a lasting impression on the audience long past the final credits.